Ashley Judd was one of the first women to speak up about being sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein. She is now one of more than 50 women who have leveled allegations of harassment, abuse and, in a some cases, rape against the former Hollywood producer.
In a world where victims of sexual abuse still feel pressure to stay silent, the reverberations of these public accusations and the #MeToo movement that followed have shone a necessary spotlight on the breadth of sexual transgressions that happen every day.
As Haley wrote in her primer on dealing with sexual harassment while it’s happening, “a reported 16% of women don’t even know what they’re experiencing is sexual harassment in the first place. Of the women that do, a whopping 72% of them don’t report their experiences.”
In the wake of Weinstein’s long-overdue downfall, Judd has continued to share her story to raise awareness in the hopes of arming young women with the knowledge and tools to prevent something like it from happening to them (a responsibility that shouldn’t fall with victims — but which does all the same, over and over).
As part of that effort, Judd collaborated with Teen Vogue on a video, released today, to share more details about her experience and to help women find their power in what often feels like a powerless situation. Read on for eight moments that stuck with me, including aspects of Judd’s story I had never heard before.
1. During her first abusive encounter with Weinstein, she tried to make a deal with him so she could safely escape the situation.
“He asked me if I would watch him take a shower, and I said you know what, Harvey, no, but when I win an Oscar in a Miramax movie, I’ll, you know, let you…and I said something, I don’t really even remember what, like I’ll let you touch me or whatever, which of course I did not mean.”
2. A boyfriend later shamed her for this tactic.
“There was a boy I went out with, and I told him about the incident, and he shamed me for the part of the story in which I said, ‘Okay, when I win an Oscar’…and he didn’t like that. He thought that was beneath me, or I should have been stronger, and I internalized that, and that was the first time I felt any shame whatsoever around what had happened.”
3. She talks about the danger of shaming victims for something entirely out of their control, and the importance of putting the shame back where it belongs.
“The perpetrator is shameless, and they put their shame on the victim, and then once they put the shame on the victim, they engage in all of these strategies to keep it there, and then [us victims] internalize it and carry it around. And so this healing work that we all have a chance to do [now] including through narrative, including through sharing our stories and grouping up, is putting the shame back where it belongs, which is on the perpetrator, and on the society that enables it.”
4. She emphasizes that, no matter what happens, the victim is blameless.
“Our bargaining strategies and the things that we do in these moments are healthy reactions to abnormal situations, and whatever we do in these moments is really okay.”
5. Her dad was in the hotel when Weinstein harassed her. After she told him what happened, he didn’t know what to do or who else to tell.
“Were dad and I supposed to go to the receptionist at the hotel who’d sent me up to his room? Were we supposed to call some fantasy attorney general of moviedom to report Harvey?”
6. She shared strategies for what to say when a situation makes you uncomfortable:
“I’m uncomfortable with that kind of language.”
“I’m actually a student here, I’m not your sweetheart.”
“I have a hunch you wouldn’t say that to one of the guy students, and so I really need you not to say that to me.”
“You may not know that what you’re doing feels inappropriate, but I need to let you know that you gotta stop.”
“If you could hear yourself, I think your self might be uncomfortable with the way that you’re speaking to me right now.”
7. Vocalizing when something is “inappropriate and unwelcome” is her favorite way of disrupting harassment as it’s happening.
“I’m walking down the street with a girlfriend and I get heckled and I go, ‘Inappropriate and unwelcome!’ and keep walking.”
8. She was angry when her story was discounted, but didn’t let her frustration deter her from trying again (and again, and again).
“I was pissed — I was really mad that my telling didn’t change anything, but you know, Anita Hill told the world that she was sexually harassed by a man who was then confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. That doesn’t mean that we stop telling.”
Photo by Michael Stewart/GC Images.